A competitive economy calls for new and creative job search strategies. Maybe you already know what you want to do, but can't find an employer. Maybe you haven't even figured out what you're good at. Out-of-the-box job searching can help you find your place in either case.
1. Offer to Fill a Need
Many successful businesses are launched with the intention of filling a single observed need. Think in terms of population segments. What services do growing retired population like to use? Is there one thing a working mother would gladly pay to have done for her? These are all opportunities to launch a freelance career.
In a bad economy, you can't always afford to be shy. If you see something you could do for someone, ask them if they need your service. A charming pitch and an eager manner is how a 13 year old boy goes door to door looking for lawns to mow. His pocket is full by the end of the summer. He knows the secret, that the worst a potential customer can do, is say no.
2. Bring the Big City Home
It may be low-tech, but one path to fresh ideas for your freelance industry is to seek out successful ventures in larger cities. Go to your library, or even online, and take a leisurely look at the yellow pages of Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. It is likely you will see advertisements for freelance services you never even knew existed, some of which might fit with your abilities and interests, or are further developed ideas you've already had.
You can use that business as a template, a starting point to launch a similar business in your own area. In a similar vein, try comparing your phone book to one of a similar sized town in a different state. Which business are succeeding there that your town doesn't have? It might be the one you need to start up.
3. Start a Blog
If your freelance work is coming in at a trickle, or not even a trickle, starting a blog to showcase your abilities may be prudent. This is an especially wise option if you are a strong writer. Whatever your strengths are, a blog is forum to talk about them, and to post links and photos of your work.
Blogging is also a modern form of networking. There is a whole community anchored in the Blogosphere. Making connections and being linked to many existing sites is a way to get noticed, and to have your name rise higher in the hierarchy of search engine hits. It is also a way to have created a portfolio of existing work if potential employers Google your name.
4. Enlist Help from Your Friends
No matter what our resumes or our experience, most people get their jobs because of someone they knew. It might be a friend who mentioned an open position she'd heard of, or a past employer recommending you for a promotion. With slight alteration, this theory applies to freelance work, too. Make sure your friends and acquaintances know what you do for a living, and that you are always open to new work (not to the point they feel pressured). Remember, desperation never draws sales. Just make it so that you are the first thing to pop up in their minds when their aunt wishes she knew of a good travel agent.
Online job lists and classified ads are a limited source of employment used by many people. Try going outside of convention to find your work. Jobs are out there, unlisted, waiting to be created or discovered by an enthusiastic freelancer.